Travel With Kids: Finding (the right) lodging in Europe

If you are on a journey around another continent with your family and can afford the luxury of a hotel the entire time, that is fantastic (and I am a bit jealous)! But you would be amazed at the astounding number of apartments available for rent for short periods of time. You can get anything from a shared room to an entire house with the click of a button. The internet has changed the game of travel and it’s now easier than ever to find a place that is the right fit, for the right price. Three types of lodging I researched included hostels, private rentals, and hotels.

Hostels

I thought at first that we would stay in some hotels, some apartments, and possibly hostels to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow travelers. But traveling with children makes that a little different experience. If you are a single person and don’t mind bunking up with a room full of strangers in a strange land, then you can find a great deal at hostels all over Europe in big cities and small towns for as little as $6 per night. If you are family of 4, while this is a choice, it wasn’t my first preference given my children’s delicate ages and my own personal need for a private space. Hostels do offer family rooms that sleep single families, but when I did my research I found that they were often full in the summer months and cost as much as a hotel would, running around $120 per night.

Websites for hostels:

https://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/europe

https://thesavvybackpacker.com/hostels-in-europe-guide/

Private Rentals

I started looking for apartments that would sleep our family of four comfortably for a lower price, would include a kitchen and a washing machine for laundry (a must have if you are traveling for anything longer than 5 days in the heat of summer with a family).

Websites I utilized:

Airbnb.com

Homeaway.com (sister of VRBO.com)

Flipkey.com (a Tripadvisor property rental source)

All had great places, and some had the same places. I found that it depended on the city when it came to choosing a website and place to stay. Prices can range from $ – $$$$ per night, so you have some flexibility. My biggest takeaway from this process of finding the perfect place was to READ THE REVIEWS. And don’t limit your reading to the first two or three, although on Airbnb they are coming from the most recent renter and you will find times when the reviews go downhill, but take the time to read and decide if it will be a great place for YOU.

People are renting these places for all kinds of different reasons. Remember, in some cases, you are staying a person’s home and you are a guest, and others are solely a rental property.

3 Reasons to rent an apartment


The living/dining area, complete with a fold out sofa as a second bed

1. It can be far less costly if you are on a budget. Rental periods can vary in length. A kitchen allows you to make your own meals, and if you choose to rent a private apartment or home you have the luxury of spreading out and using the space to it’s fullest.


Tram riding in Prague
An older local woman gave our backpacker a peach for offering her his seat on this ride. Be polite!

2. Our favorite places to stay were the ones in the heart of whatever city’s real life we could feel the patois of the culture. They were not necessarily in the middle of all the tourist spots, so we were forced to assimilate, to use language and public transportation like the locals. If you are not familiar with public transportation systems this can present a fun challenge, and for us, was the least expensive and convenient way to get around. A little challenge is one of the best parts about travel.


Our “landlady” tour

3. We also loved the places where the owners personally met with us and were truly concerned with our stay in their city. These folks take great pride in their city and culture and are renting space to share that with you. One owner even took a full day to show us around Vienna, with a tour personalized for our family. We saw so much of the city, some major tourist destinations and others places we never would have seen otherwise because she was a “local”. Actually she was a transplant from England, but that helped us because she spoke English…the king’s English. We enjoyed not having to think too much about what we would do that day and followed her lead. We were pretty tired by then (week 5 of our 6 week adventure) and ready for someone else to make the decisions for a day.

Hotels

Hotels can be fantastic depending on where you stay. They offer convenience, security and, sometimes, even a turn down service. While we stayed at three hotels along the way, hotels were our last choice due to the higher cost. But, if you are willing to look you can find great deals.

Websites I utilized:

https://www.hotels.com/

I had a fantastic experience with Hotels.com. They were watching the reviews and called me to cancel my reservation and moved us to a new, more expensive hotel at no added cost to us.

https://www.priceline.com/hotels

https://www.orbitz.com/Hotels

Plenty of websites are available to choose from, but these are the three I prefer.

If you choose to travel to Europe in peak travel seasons, reservations are a must at any of these accommodations. Do your research and enjoy your travels!

Travel is never a matter of money but of courage. -Paulo Coelho

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